Robert “Mack” Crawford was named a Griffin Circuit Superior Court judge last week despite a blistering eight-page critique of his management of Georgia’s system of public defenders. Criminal defense attorney Stephen Bright wrote the Judicial Nominating Commission trying to block Crawford’s appointment, describing his three years as director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council as an “unmitigated disaster.”
Jailhouses are rockin‘ in northeast Georgia, as hundreds of defendants awaiting trial are once again guaranteed an attorney if they cannot afford one. The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council this week settled a lawsuit alleging it had abandoned poor defendants in the five-county Northern Judicial Circuit. The judge signing the consent order concluded the state’s indigent-defense system is “fraught with a lack of accountability.”
Nearly 200 criminal defendants have no state-paid lawyer as required by Georgia law to handle their appeals, according to a civil suit filed today. More than half have waited more than a year without an attorney. Budget cuts and a 2008 Supreme Court decision lie at the heart of the problem. “When our system of criminal justice does not itself comply with the rule of law, its integrity is fairly questioned,” said attorney Michael A. Caplan. “That integrity is what is at issue in this case.”
Atlanta’s police oversight agency could do its work quicker and more effectively if it had direct subpoena power, a human rights advocacy group said in a report issued Monday.